Tennis

Leylah Fernandez eliminates another Top 5 seed in march to U.S. Open semifinals

Canadian tennis player Leylah Fernandez continued her remarkable run at the U.S. Open on Tuesday, earning a spot in the semifinals with an upset victory over Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

19-year-old Canadian tennis player defeats Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5)

Canada's Leylah Fernandez, 19, defeated fifth-seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) at the U.S. Open in New York on Tuesday. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Canada's Leylah Fernandez continued her remarkable run at the U.S. Open in New York on Tuesday, earning a spot in the semifinals with an upset victory over Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

The 19-year-old from Laval, Que., held on through some difficult stretches to post a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) win over the tennis tournament's No. 5 seed.

In the process, she becomes the tournament's youngest semifinalist since Maria Sharapova in 2005.

Next on this magical ride for Fernandez will come yet another test against a player who is ranked higher and has more experience on the sport's biggest stages. On Thursday, she'll play No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, a Wimbledon semifinalist in July, who defeated French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-1, 6-4.

Fernandez — ranked 73rd in the world and participating in only the seventh major tournament of her career — broke Svitolina midway through the first set and won four of 10 break points across the two-hour, 24-minute match.

"I was only thinking of trusting myself, trusting my game. After every point, win or lose, I would always tell myself, 'Trust my game. Go for my shots. Just see where the ball goes,"' Fernandez said.

"I obviously have no idea what I'm feeling right now," she said. "I was so nervous. I was trying to do what my coach told me to do."

That coach is her father, who isn't in New York — he stayed home and is offering tips in daily phone conversations. That helps, certainly, as does the loud backing she's been receiving from the spectators in Arthur Ashe Stadium, who rose and cheered wildly each time Fernandez raised a fist high above her head or windmilled both arms after winning a key point.

"Thanks to you, I was able to push through today," she told the crowd after edging Svitolina.

WATCH | Fernandez defeats Svitolina: 

Leylah Annie Fernandez soars into U.S. Open semifinals

3 months ago
6:52
One day after her 19th birthday, Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., upset world No. 5 Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) to advance to the U.S. Open semifinals. 6:52

Svitolina, who won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics last month, had eight aces and won 72 per cent of her first-serve points. But the Canadian remained patient and agile, dashing across the court to place shots just beyond her opponent's reach.

"She did a lot of things well," ESPN tennis analyst Pam Shriver said about Fernandez. "Her lefty serve is causing a lot of awkward return positions where Svitolina just struggled in the first set.

"How quickly Fernandez takes the ball on the baseline is causing problems for people [and] the angles she's able to come up with on both the forehand and the backhand."

WATCH | Fernandez takes U.S. Open by storm: 

Canadian Leylah Fernandez takes U.S. Open by storm

3 months ago
2:04
At 18 years old, Canadian Leylah Fernandez has taken the U.S. Open by storm with major upset wins over Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber and advancing to the quarter finals. 2:04

Fernandez also beat stars Naomi Osaka of Japan in the third round and Germany's Angelique Kerber in the fourth. 

Auger-Aliassime reaches semifinals

Montreal's Felix Auger-Aliassime, the No. 12 seed, has also advanced to the men's semifinals after facing Carlos Alcaraz of Spain on Tuesday.

Alcaraz retired in the second set — with the Canadian up 6-3, 3-1 — ending the match.

Auger-Aliassime is set to play Daniil Medvedev of Russia and becomes the first Canadian man to reach the U.S. Open semifinals. 

With files from The Associated Press

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